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Following a number of delays associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the first federal trial involving problems with Bard hernia mesh has been rescheduled to begin on August 2, 2021, serving as a “bellwether” that will help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout thousands of other claims.
Nearly identical allegations have been presented against C.R. Bard in more than 8,000 product liability lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, which are centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. in the Southern District of Ohio, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL)
Plaintiffs claim they have suffered painful and debilitating injuries after a hernia mesh failure, indicating polypropylene designs used by Bard a number of different products sold in recent years were unreasonably dangerous and defective.
Following coordinated common discovery into facts relevant to all claims, Judge Sargus established a “bellwether” process, where a small group of representative cases have been prepared for a series of early trial dates, which were originally expected to begin in May 2020. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged early last year, the start of the first trial has been delayed several times.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on March 9, Judge Sargus indicates the first bellwether trial is now scheduled to begin on August 2, involving claims presented by Steven Johns. It appears the Court intends to hold the trial in-person, indicating counsel will meet in Judge Sargus’ chambers every day while the trial is ongoing.
Following the conclusion of this case, at least three additional bellwether trials are expected to be held in the MDL, as part of a process designed to help the parties evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their claims, and encourage settlement discussions that may resolve larger numbers of similar claim.
If the parties are unable to reach hernia mesh settlements following the bellwether process, Judge Sargus may begin remanding hundreds of cases to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates over the next few years.